April 20, 2009
Recently, I asked a smart young woman to help me figure something out.
The problem involved lots of numbers and moving parts. She quickly created some documents and a nifty spread sheet that, she claimed, explained the issue.
I looked at it on the computer about 50 times. I printed the pages out on a color printer and studied them. I carried them around with me for several days so that, in free moments, I could read them again. And again.
The things might as well have been written in Sanskrit.
Irritated that I wasn’t understanding any of this, and confident that my lack of comprehension was someone else’s fault, I scheduled a call to get an explanation of the mumbo jumbo she’d sent me. I blocked out an hour, hoping we’d have all the time we needed for her to make it clear. And I made sure I had the documents spread out in front of me and the computer fired up.
She took no more – literally, no more – than 30 seconds to gently describe what I was seeing. It was clear even before she finished the full explanation. It was so obvious.
The experience was like being horribly near sighted and agitated that you can’t find your glasses, then having someone simply reach over and gently push them up your nose.
Embarrassed, I thanked her profusely and hurried off the call.
I described the incident to my wife Liz, telling her this neat, helpful woman must have hung up the phone thinking, “Oh, my. This guy is out there making laws I have to live under?”
One mystery in my life is that, after 30 years of marriage and almost four decades of knowing Liz, I still expect some solace from her. She listened (while continuing to read whatever she had in front of her), casually looked up at me and said, “Yeah. I think that all the time.”
The truth is, it’s that time in the legislative session when lots of people are probably asking that sort of question about the folks who are making the laws, or trying to.
And another truth is, some folks seem to provide more reasons to ask that question than others.